Left is right and down is up and the dirty little secret of parenting is that things are much easier today. Welcome to ParentalGrit, where we spent Monday basically saying the exact opposite: parenting used to be easier. I’m adopting the mindset of my toddler here and changing my mind on a whim to advocate for the other side. By Friday’s post, it appears that I’ll be arguing that parenting is the exact same as it used to be. Regardless, we’re sticking up for the old folks here today and going back to days of homesteading, outhouses, and saloons….well, maybe not that far back in time. As we debate the evolution of parenting, I often wonder if prior generations had the same thoughts about their parents and grandparents—that parenting was becoming more difficult. Let’s jump on their side for today and see why raising children is such a piece of cake in today’s society.
Starting with the oft contentious, screen time gets quite the bad rap in modern parenting. Indeed, full confession, my wife and I are those parents that don’t really allow screen time at this point in our daughters’ lives (2.5 and 7 months). We’re not trying to prevent it forever but rather hoping some tight rules earlier in their lives will make it easier to manage later. Screen time, though, doesn’t have to result in your kids watching Pulp Fiction or playing Halo, there’s an endless well of educational and interesting items for kids to enjoy. Anyways, whether you believe in the power of the iPad and the Netflix or not, there’s no denying its significant effects on modern day parenting. If your kid starts losing it while you stand in line at the DMV…BOOM, here’s the cell phone to save the day. Saturday morning sore throat for momma? Unleash the tiger…Daniel Tiger. Church restlessness? Wedding? Road Trip? The possibilities are endless and all these devices are a godsend for parents everywhere. Imagine 50 years ago when the only tools at a parents disposal were yo-yos and metallic Slinkies. We have it good these days.
One of the items we discussed on Monday was how many families are now functioning as dual income households and how that can raise stress levels for both parents. There is, however, a hidden benefit to the evolving structure of the modern family: father participation! Back in the days of sole breadwinners and the classic, cliché images of stay at home moms, the bulk of the parenting was placed squarely on the mother as many fathers worked long hours and were accustomed to being nothing more than role players in their children’s lives. That’s the case for fewer and fewer families these days, as there isn’t any choice but for daddy to be heavily involved. As a doting father forever entranced by my two lovely daughters, I call that a win.
Another topic we discussed was the availability of information and how every child’s cough can quickly escalate into a WebMD diagnosis of leprosy. The obvious benefit in opposition to this, of course, is how easy it is for parents to acquire knowledge. How many times have you Googled “Why won’t my baby poop?” “How to Potty-Train”, “What does this spot mean”, or “How am I so awesome at parenting?” The information is there and in a heartbeat. Imagine 50 years ago in a rural town trying to survive teething. Information was anecdotal and scarce and gasp, sometimes you had to read a book to figure it out.
I know we’re in a disturbing time in modern society as more scandals and disgusting stories come out that, as a parent, I really would prefer not to mention or even think about. That being said, the silver lining to all this nonsense coming to light is how much more transparency exists in the present. Most schools, daycares, and stores have constant video footage as it becomes more and more of a focus to protect our children. So transparency is definitely a win for the modern days, even if that has led to our minds being flooded with all the terrible abuses of our world.
On a much lighter note, there’s this thing called Amazon Prime that exists. There’s a convenience store and pharmacy on every corner and the major grocers now shop for you. Other than going to work, parents can virtually never take their sweats off at home and never risk a toddler tantrum in public. A click of a button gets you whatever you want within two days, though the technology still hasn’t been developed where you can receive a potty-trained toddler or a respectful teenager within two days, but I’m sure that’s in the works.
More than things being easier or harder for parents these days, they really are simply different. Expectations and parental roles have changed while advancing technology has made the day-to-day much easier. Social media has blown everything to smithereens, as it’s impossible to decipher what is reality and what is a photoshopped exaggeration of the perfect life. So where do you fall? Do you believe things are easier or harder for parents these days? For me, there will always be those self-pity moments and days when I believe I have it harder than any other parent in the history of existence…and then other days, why, this parenting gig is a piece of cake.